Genova - The dispute over Ilva has been burning hotter since the controlled bankruptcy at the Italian steel group which was once owned by the Riva family. Nowadays the facility belongs to the chain Am InvestCo, controlled by the Franco-Indian ArcelorMittal Group.
Yesterday, three days after the opening of the meeting at the MISE [i.e. Ministry of Economic Development] - the unions received official notice required by law for the sale of part of the company from Am InvestCo and ILVA’s special commissioners. The document must describe the future of the employees and their new legal and economic conditions.
Although the number of redundancies (about 4,000) and those who will be taken on by Am InvestCo (10,000 in total, but there are also the 70 employees of its two French subsidiaries Socova and Tillet) were already announced, the reaction from the unions was immediate, unanimous, and infuriated. In Cornigliano, FIOM threatened to occupy the factory, and in Taranto the mobilisation is under way. Vice Minister Teresa Bellanova, who will follow the talks, tried to calm everyone’s spirits: “the negotiations have yet to begin.” From FIOM’s point of view, ArcelorMittal has shown that it is “arrogant and unreliable.”
FIOM General Secretary Francesca Re David and Rosario Rappa condemned the notice as “a provocation” to which one can only respond with “a strongly combative action from all workers.” For Marco Bentivogli, FIM-CISL’s leader, the negotiations “have started off on the wrong foot” and if they don’t take a step back “a general mobilisation will become inevitable.” Rocco Palombella, the general secretary of the UIL steelworkers, called the conditions set by Am Investco “unacceptable.” The Genoese in Cornegliano, where 600 of 1,500 workers are to be laid off, were the angriest: “I cannot allow this slap in the city’s face,” said Armando Palombo of RSU FIOM, announcing “the occupation of the factory” in advance. The same anger came from the Genoese FIOM: “A shameful letter that, amongst other things, ignores two State laws: the law that requires employees to be kept on automatically upon the sale of part of a company, and a law called programme agreement which says that employment levels and salaries cannot be touched in Genoa,” said Genoese FIOM Secretary Bruno Manganaro.
It is not only the numbers that have the unions up in arms (since that could have been discussed at the meeting), but also the conditions that the workers, who become Am InvestCo employees, would have to accept.
To begin with, they would lose the Article 18 guarantee because they will be rehired under the contract with increasing protections set forth by the “Jobs Act,” and furthermore, there will be no “continuity of [the previous] employment relationship neither in relation to pay nor seniority.”
On this last issue, Am InvestCo says that it is considering “some additional elements having to do with pay which would be determined based on the constitutive elements’ [i.e. workers’] current pay.” It would therefore fall to the unions to negotiate pay levels.
In the meantime, the European Antitrust Authority has announced in an initial deliberation that the ILVA operation could “be within the scope of the regulation on mergers.” However, the Authority is reserving judgement and giving a period of ten days for the interested parties to present their objections.
Finally, the court today rejected the plea bargain appeal filed by Fabio and Nicola Riva, members of the family which formerly owned ILVA Taranto, which Milan’s preliminary hearing judge Chiara Valori called “incongruous.” A new court date is set for 17 November.